Crackling and Speed Distortion When Recording

Hello, everyone! I’ve had this issue come up twice in the last couple of months and I don’t know what could be causing it. The recorded audio is cracked and sped up and completely unusable. Attached is a sample of the distortion that occurs when recording. After restarting the computer, any other recordings I would make turned out fine. This has only happened twice, but I can’t recreate the problem on my own and I don’t know when it will pop up again.

The only other thread I have been able to find that had a similar issue was here:, but their sample rates didn’t match up and I don’t know if that was the official fix. As far as I can see, my settings match, so sample rate isn’t an issue as far as I can see…any help would be greatly appreciated!

Windows 10 Pro Version 1511, OS Build 10586.318
Processor: Intel Core i5-4460, CPU @ 3.20 GHz, RAM 8 GB
System Type: 64 bit operating system, x64 based processor

Audacity Version and Settings: 2.1.2, pretty sure it was from the .exe installer, but I wasn’t the one to install it
Default Sample Rate: 44100 HZ
Default Sample Format: 32-bit float
Real-time conversion: Medium Quality, no dither

DAC (I think that’s what it is)
Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, connected by USB
The computer says this in the properties:
Select the sample rate and bit depth to be used when running in shared mode: (What is shared mode?)
2 channel, 16 bit, 44100 Hz (CD quality)

Can you record in 32-bit float when the DAC is only at 16 bit? Could that really be the solution? I want to record at the highest quality possible, but if this fixes it, then I will make the change.

Sped up recordings, odd as this sounds, are really recorded too slow. Something in the recording system can’t keep up with the job.

If it’s not too bad, the system may just drop bits here and there and produce a Donald Duck recording. If the problems is too extreme, the system may throw up its little hands and start over at a different place. That start over business is what gives you the sudden, sharp vertical jerks in the blue waves against the gentle up and down of natural sound.

Recording sound (or video) is not easy. If the computer needs to compute Photoshop Gaussian blur or recalculate a complex Excel spreadsheet, it just tells you to go drink coffee while it does it. It can’t do that with picture or sound. The next musical note is coming right after this one and there’s no such thing as “hold on a second while I do my digital housekeeping or pay attention to something else.”

So what else is your computer doing? It shouldn’t be doing anything. Do you have Skype napping in the background all this time? Are you checking out your email or Twitter feed?

All that high quality information you provided and we have no idea what you’re doing. What are you doing? What are you recording? I suspect you’re probably doing straight recording of a theatrical presentation, or at least I hope you are. The people who get killed turn out to have convoluted self-recording of YouTube productions with Skype. For those people we have a hardy “Good Luck.”

There is another possibility of changing the Edit > Preferences > Recording > Latency > Audio To Buffer setting. I thought that only applied to the Mac people, but I could be wrong.


I guess it would help if I let you know what we were doing! I’m recording a voice actor read a script for an online training course. The only programs that are running while recording are OpenOffice, Audacity, and maybe Windows Explorer. I checked any startup programs, but background runners would be a good thing to keep an eye out for. There’s no Skype on the computer, this computer is only used for recording audio. We have a single mic going into the Scarlett box, which is plugged into the computer. I just double checked the USB connector, and it was plugged into regular USB, not the blue USB 2.0 port that the Scarlett is compatible with. That should help with speed, right?

I think this is where I gracefully bow out. I’m not a Windows elf. I have no idea what could cause an otherwise well-behaved Windows machine to suddenly produced a destroyed recording.

I do know there’s no shortage of jokes about Windows 10 and the Microsoft upgrade has cause no end of problems. Windows 10 can wave its magic wand and obsolete all the hardware on your machine. “Sorry, your older soundcard is not Win10 compatible and is no longer reliable. Have a happy day.”

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, connected by USB

Is the 2i4 Windows 10 compliant? It has to say so in clear English words. No fair metaphorical projections or assumptions. You’d be amazed the number of sound services and devices that no longer work with Windows.


Focusrite has a Windows 10 Compatibility page from which you can see that 2i4 is claimed compliant with Windows 10 if you download the release driver 2.5.1.

You can try Exclusive Mode in Windows Sound instead of Shared Mode (or vice-versa). For explanation see - it applies to later versions of Windows too.

When Audacity is set to 32-bit Default Sample Format it is not recording at 32-bit float - it is recording at the bit depth the device or Windows determine (16-bit or 24-bit for your device) then upconverting to 32-bit (which is a lossless process).

Normally matching sample rates in Audacity, Windows and the device matters more than matching bit depths. However if your Audacity Default Sample Format is 32-bit float this is twice the data to push around compared to 16-bit and it might matter if you were getting dropouts.


Thank you both for the information. I’ve tried to cut back on anything non-essential on the computer and removed any unnecessary processes. I’ll now be recording in 16-bit, so I’ll let you know how it goes!